Council supports introduction of 'buffer zones' to stop anti-abortion protests around health centres

Motion brought before monthly meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council

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Council supports introduction of 'buffer zones' to stop anti-abortion protests around health centres

The motion was put forward by People Before Profit councillor Maeve O'Neill.

Derry City and Strabane District Council has voted to support the introduction of 'buffer zones' to stop anti-abortion protests outside health centres.

People Before Profit councillor Maeve O'Neill put forward a motion at this evening's monthly meeting of the council.

Her motion read: "Council notes there has been a consistent presence of protestors outside of healthcare centres where it is perceived abortion services are being provided. This Council condemns the harassment outside of healthcare centres of women accessing a range of health care services. This harassment impacts every service user. This Council agrees that the public display of graphic abortion imagery can re-traumatise and inflict harm upon people who see it and particularly for those who have had miscarriages. This council would support the introduction of buffer zones outside of healthcare centres. This Council agrees to investigate whether such acts of harassment can be regulated by Council or other bodies to ensure that people can access the healthcare services they need in this Council area. In doing so, this Council commits to challenging the stigma imposed by protestors on people seeking healthcare which is their legal and human right."

Cllr O'Neill said her motion was not aimed at stopping people from protesting but from ensuring that any protest was not outside a healthcare centre.

However, during a lengthy debate, other councillors raised concerns about the impact that such a motion could have on people's right to protest.

When the motion was put to a vote, eighteen councillors voted in support of it.

Twelve councillors voted against the motion, while six councillors abstained from the vote.

Therefore, the motion was passed.